The impact of Covid-19 on the Working Population
We are now into the 3rd week of coronavirus (Covid-19) headlines here in the UK and it has been dominating everyone’s lives for the last few weeks.
Over the weekend the dinner table conversation was never far from coronavirus – the impact of the disease, from news of stockpiling to speculation on what the future holds. Topics like Brexit and the election seem like distant memories now. People I have spoken to seem varied in their approach.
Some are determined to ignore news or advice and carry on regardless. One gent in the men’s toilets over the weekend failed to even wash his hands!
Others are imposing complete self-isolation. The UK Government will be imposing stricter social distancing measures over the coming days and weeks in order to allow the health service to cope with the likely spike in infections.
This is a two-part blog, the first being an up to date account of how the virus is affecting our business in recruitment. This will be followed by a second blog on how the virus is affecting businesses and the workforce in general.
Part 1: Impact on Recruitment
Everything was fine until a couple of weeks ago when the true impacts of the virus started to be felt in Red Tiger Talent’s recruitment world. My brother and I were meant to be going to a conference in Amsterdam in order to keep up to speed with the latest location planning technology – that was cancelled. Not really a significant impact on our recruiting activities but it was a sure-fire sign of things to come.
Last week changes seemed to gather even more pace – we had a candidate cancel a final interview as a direct result of the virus and their situation on the job market doesn’t seem likely to change in the near future. We have also had a number of active candidates inform us that they are going to stand firm in their current roles for the time being.
This week has started with a candidate coming forward asking if there are any opportunities for them. Nothing strange in that at first glance – but it is after a significant period of them being an independent consultant. Their fear and main driver to moving back into the corporate world is that the longer-term economic impact (likely global recession) will be particularly challenging as a consultant and they felt a need to get back into permanent, more stable, employment.
Our thoughts are also with some of the candidates who are currently serving their notice and are due to be starting new roles in the next few months. We are ensuring that the lines of communication are well and truly open between the client and candidate to ensure that the candidates are well aware of what policies are in place with their new company and that they are still able to start on the agreed date. Fortunately, all of our placements are going ahead and measures will be in place to onboard within the restrictions that are likely.
The virus is also affecting our clients in a number of ways. Firstly, those clients who are actively recruiting may struggle to either find candidates or once found, struggle to find ways to appropriately assess their suitability.
We all know that meeting face to face is the best way to assess a candidate, something that is currently not encouraged and would be largely classed as a non-essential business activity. It is refreshing to see that some of our clients, with a very clear need to continue recruiting, are carrying on regardless. They are also thinking laterally about the interview process and embracing technology that can support the assessment in times of limited face to face contact.
Secondly, some businesses, particularly those in the consultancy space, seem to be ‘battening down the hatches’ in readiness for a prolonged period of reduced activity after a period of sustained growth. One interview scheduled for this week has been cancelled for ‘cost control’ reasons – there is little point in interviewing people if there is a reluctance to add head count until we are through the uncertainty.
Coping with the new regime
This dovetails nicely with the second part of this blog which looks at the business impacts of the virus. What is clear is that this crisis will force changes in behaviours as a result. Those that succeed in the coming months will be those who can break from the shackles of ‘normal’ business operations and adapt to new behaviours required to survive in the new regime.
It will not be long before Red Tiger Talent place our first candidate without the need for them to meet the hiring manager face to face. This already happens on assignments where the candidates and the company are significant distances apart, where it isn’t practical for the candidate to travel. We have a candidate due to start a new role in mid April and their employer is already planning for how to get them onboard regardless of the ongoing lockdown situation.
Assessment of candidates is a critical part in the recruitment process, and we are certainly seeing greater flexibility from some businesses in order to continue to assess talent in the market. Only today we have instructed candidates that their face to face final interviews have not been cancelled but been switched to skype calls. Where there is a will there’s a way.
There is no doubt that recruitment activity levels will be relatively slow for Red Tiger Talent for the foreseeable future – depending on which crystal ball you look at, improvements could start slowly in September or worst case, this hiatus could carry on well into 2021. Red Tiger Talent are fortunate in some respects that we have had a really strong start to the first 6 months of our financial year and, whilst (pre coronavirus) we were on for a record breaking full year, the impact of the social isolation will inevitably limit our revenue for the foreseeable future. A small price to pay if it helps, as anticipated, to allow our NHS to cope with the increased pressure on services as a direct result of this virus.
Like many of our clients who are putting their expansion on hold for now we have also made the difficult decision to delay the taking on of an apprentice in order to keep our outgoings to a minimum. This, pre coronavirus, was an indication that we were feeling positive about our growth in the market and the next logical step was to get some operational support.
For Red Tiger will also have to adapt – we have a three point plan to build strong foundations over the next few months:
- Cost control – less recruitment activity will certainly mean saving on travel and subsistence, but we will also be scrutinising every cost in order to ensure we remain in a cash positive position
- More conversations – We will use the space in our calendar to engage with more candidates (existing and new) in order to ensure we are ready to support our clients once restrictions are lifted
- Diversification – With recruitment freezes and remote working going to be the norm for the foreseeable future we will promote our other services that may be delivered remotely, specifically:
- Consultancy – if clients need some temporary, remote resource to deliver location planning, GIS or data analytics project we are potentially available
- Training – this is a great time for people to use spare capacity in their working day to ensure
We’d love to hear from you, whether you have a vacancy to advertise, are looking for a job or may be interested in talking to us about our consultancy or training services.
Together we can all succeed in isolation!
Please call us for a chat: Paul 44(0)7918 653 877 / Steve +44(0)7979 756 257 Or email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Steve Halsall
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